First ever Catalogue of Rivers for Pacific Islands
For the first time a selection of river characteristics from across the Pacific can be found in one book the Catalogue of Rivers for Pacific Islands. The book documents the main features and characteristics of the rivers in eight Pacific Island Countries and the available data associated with them.
Rivers in the Pacific Islands are generally very dynamic. The distances from their sources to the ocean are often short. The consequent short travel times allow waters to rise and fall quickly in response to rainfall. This was seen with devastating effect during the recent flooding in Nadi, Fiji in late March.
Avinash Tyagi, Director of Climate and Water at the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said that the book provided for the first time, an important hydrological foundation by reviewing the available data sets and compiling them into a consistent style and format.
“I firmly believe that it will be a valuable and sought after source of information for a range of users,” Mr Tyagi said.
Rivers are not found in all countries in the Pacific and are generally confined to those islands which have the right sort of geology being generally larger and more elevated. Islands that are fortunate to have permanent rivers, rely on them greatly for water supplies, agriculture and fishing, transportation, power generation as well as recreation. They are an integral part of the environment and are valued by all.
Peter Sinclair, Water Resources Advisor at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community’s Applied Geoscience and Technology Division (SPC SOPAC), said that the book was a valuable first step at understanding the dynamics of island rivers but more study and data was needed to ensure rivers could keep up with increasing demand from growing populations and economies.
“The small size of many Pacific islands means that water resources are limited. Growing populations, increased demand from numerous industries, and increased climate variability is adding pressure to water resources,” Mr Sinclair said. “All Pacific island countries need easily accessible, relevant, and reliable information to guide the development of their future water needs.”
The Catalogue of Rivers for Pacific Islands raises the need for improved and consistent hydrological data capture and management. Current data sets are often patchy, highlighting the difficulties that countries face in maintaining consistent and long term data sets.
“These data sets are important for future economic development as well as the long term protection of the highly valued natural environments,” Mr Sinclair said. “More needs to be done to increase the technical and human resource capacity of the Pacific to collect, maintain and distribute hydrological data.”
The Catalogue of Rivers for Pacific Islands was made possible through the support of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) International Hydrology Program. Additional support came from the European Union and SPC SOPAC.